Train in France-1st versus 2nd class?

Old Aug 18th, 2016, 07:45 PM
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Train in France-1st versus 2nd class?

What is the difference between 1st class and 2nd class trains for two women? We will be traveling "direct TGV" from Paris to Biarritz. I see the difference with the refundability, but what is the difference in the seating and in the comfort in the cars? TY!
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Old Aug 18th, 2016, 07:58 PM
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As far as I'm concerned, I go 2nd class on the TGV. It's roomy enough.
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Old Aug 18th, 2016, 08:39 PM
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Train in France-1st versus 2nd class?
Posted by: cduke on Aug 18, 16 at 10:45pm
What is the difference between 1st class and 2nd class trains for two women?


The main difference is 3 across seating in 1st class and 4 across in 2nd class. See the photo at http://www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap17/rail.htm. If you have a rail pass and are over 25 you will be in 1st class. Gender is not relevant.
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Old Aug 18th, 2016, 08:43 PM
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Why don't you take a look yourself? Here are many pictures http://www.seat61.com/tgv.htm. Look at the video.

Unlike planes, there are little differences in leg room, width, or comfort of seat. For this reason, if one focus only on this aspect, they would say there is little difference.

Look at the pictures.

2nd class: seats come in:
two side by side. Forward or backward
four facing across a long table.
If one of you don't like sitting backwards, it is kind of trickly too make sure your seats face forward. If only one of you have this problem , you can get seats across from each other and you can switch depending on the train direction. However, someone else might be sitting next to both of you. Sometimes you meet interesting people with these kind of seat. Othertimes, we have sat next to grumpy old men

1st class:
two side by side: forward or backward
four facing across a table
one facing forward or backward
two facing across a narrow table = duo vis à vis
The duo vis à vis only exist in the 1st class. I try to get one of these on a busy train. My wife does not like to sit backward. One of the seat always goes the "right" direction.

The 1st class "tends" to have more room to keep luggage close to you. But it all depends on who else are in the car. If a group tour people, all carrying 26" AND a 22", are in the same car, you have no space around you irrespective of the class. In this case, even the end of the car luggage racks can be all taken by these people.
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Old Aug 18th, 2016, 09:15 PM
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On the SNCF wabsite, there are times when the 1st class fare is within 5 euros of the 2nd class fare and in odd cases even cheaper, if you don't mind a non-refundable, non exchangeable ticket.

One thing to know about French trains is that in case of a strike, all tickets become refundable, no matter what the restrictions when you bought them. And if a train is more than 30 minutes late, you are entitled to compensation of at least 25% of the fare. If the train is 2 hours late, you get 100% compensation. Sometimes there will be staff handing out the claim envelopes at your arrival point. If not, you just ask for one at a service window.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 07:53 AM
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The difference in classes is so negligible to me that I never travel 1st class unless there is a huge sale of 1st class tickets that makes them just about the same price as 2nd class ones.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 08:09 AM
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I remember this question from this forum eons ago--also because I used to wonder it myself.

On my last trip, I walked through the different train cars to observe closely what the difference was--and I concluded that it was just the upholstery.

Like the previous poster, I never take first class unless it becomes almost the same price as 2nd class.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 08:59 AM
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St Cirq I fully understand BUT if you would actually BUY a First ticket when they are "just about the same price" there is obviously something that is more than "so negligible" which prompts you to spend that extra money even though "on sale" First remains more expensive.

We KNOW what that "something" is, too.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 09:35 AM
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I prefer first class, it's just a little nicer and sometimes less crowded. It isn't just the upholstery, I think the seats can be different also. I don't think "space" is exactly the issue. And the seating arrangements, also.

The cost often isn't much more at all, either, so that's why I usually but it but only on longer distances. Unless the price were the same, I probably wouldn't for a trip of only an hour or two.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 09:42 AM
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oh, by seats being nicer, I mean I've been on TGV trains where the second class seats were not upholstered at all, they were hard, flat seats. In any case, they weren't as comfortable. I think from Tours, one was like that. I believe that was an old train, though, and may not be any around like that anymore, don't know. And around holidays, second class cars can sometimes be full of loud young people.

I don't think the post above mentions solo seats, either, whichI think are only in first class, whcih I like.

Let's face it, it obviously is preferred by some people or it could not exist and ever charge a higher fee as no one would pay for it.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 10:07 AM
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TGV seats with no upholstery? I think you must have been hallucinating. I admit that the vinyl seats are not always as nice as I would like, but it definitely qualifies as upholstery.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 10:59 AM
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Dukey, it's a matter of a few centimeters. And yes, there's always upholstery on TGVs. And when I say paying "extra money," I'm talking about less than 5€.
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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 12:04 PM
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We travel first class, since we only usually take one train trip in France and drive the rest of the time. I think the price difference this year when I booked was something like 7 euro when I purchased Montpellier to Paris tickets, so what the heck?

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Old Aug 19th, 2016, 03:46 PM
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TGV seats with no upholstery?

In my memory of train travel, the last un-upholstered benches I encountered was the historic train taking us to the Marquèze Landes museum:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7627163616289/

and possibly the train going up la Rhune in Basque country. There may be other historical lines in Europe, but otherwise inter-city trains have upholstered seats.
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Old Aug 27th, 2016, 08:15 PM
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Thank you everyone!! Such great information. We really appreciate your help!!
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Old Aug 27th, 2016, 10:55 PM
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I travel in all kind of fast trains and all kind of classes.
For me, ICE deserves the title of 'first clas' since you really see the difference. More roomy, quiet as hell, some private compartments. TGV : I honestly don't see the difference, and sorry to sound like Snob, when there is a matter of a few euros, it means you get the same people in first as in second. And I remember a kid from northern France kicking all the seat and yelling whilst running in the alleys. His mother was completely useless - the kind you see in the reality show like 'hell in kitchen' or 'Super Nanny, help me, my 2 years old will not listen to me'. I prefer Thalys second class to the first since the travelers in first have no respect for their neighbours when they yell in their cellphones (all with nice suits, mind you).
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Old Aug 28th, 2016, 12:12 AM
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If you don't mind sitting solo, these First Class seats do have a little more room. When you book, look for "place isolee". These seats don't cost extra.
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